Magazine article World Literature Today

San Francisco: Well-Curated City by the Bay

Magazine article World Literature Today

San Francisco: Well-Curated City by the Bay

Article excerpt

San Francisco: Well-curated City by the Bay

Just as a bookshelf can jam together wildly different books, each book a small box opening onto a different world, so seemed the buildings of my city: every row of houses and shops brought near many kinds of abundance, opened onto many mysteries: crack houses, zen centers, gospel churches, tattoo parlors, produce stores, movie palaces, dim sum shops.

- Rebecca Solnit

In his 1998 inaugural address, former San Francisco poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti voiced concern over what the Bay Guardian earlier described as "a city undergoing a radical transformation-from a diverse metropolis that welcomed immigrants and refugees from around the world to a homogenous, wealthy enclave." Fourteen years later, Peter Orner charted the changes in his neighborhood, Precita Park, as it became more affluent and pushed out middleclass renters. Still, Orner saw the character that remained in Precita Park, and a few days in the city proves it hasn't lost the gentrification battle yet: its diversity, poetic life, and internal contradictions are alive on the streets and in the literature it inspires.

Litquake, an annual literary festival in October, attracts dozens of writers from diverse backgrounds and genres and places them in venues throughout the city. …

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